Thanks to generous donations by local supporters, the Fine Arts Society of Liberty Texas (FASOLT) sponsored a field trip for 12 students from Liberty Middle School to attend a classical music concert and experience fine dining in Houston.
On April 14, students, Coach Joe Roberts and Mr. Gus Figeac were joined by several supporters of FASOLT for a beautiful performance by the Rice University Shepherd School of Music Symphony Orchestra at Stude Concert Hall. On the menu were Stravinsky’s Suite from Pulcinella; Rota’s Concerto for Trombone (John Church, soloist; Benjamin Manis, conductor); and Mozart’s Symphony No. 39 in E-flat Major, K. 543.
Figeac chauffeured the group west for the evening of culture in a “big yellow limo.”
The students are in Coach Roberts’ theater arts class. Last year, he took soccer players on a similar outing. They were given a background presentation before the concert about the music they would be hearing that evening. Some had been exposed to classical music, but several had not, making their pre-experience impressions a curiosity to the adults in attendance.
Most were sixth-graders, including Kaylee, Deacon, Kelsie, Ellie, Claire, Merycle, Ethan, Dalton, Clark and Nolan.
Afterward, the young concert-goers were treated to an Italian dinner at D’Amico’s, where they dished on their fresh experience.
Kaylee hears classical music at home, and before the concert explained that every performance has meaning behind it, that every piece is meant to make the listener feel a certain way. After the concert, she said it made her think of colors and happiness, but she also realized that the composers had put their own hearts into their pieces for future generations, like hers.
Deacon wasn’t sure but thought he might have heard classical music before. He imagined it could be joyful or sad or could evoke just about any emotion. After the concert, he shared how impressed he was with the talent on stage in front of him.
“They’ve worked hard to get there. It takes a lot of dedication to perfect what they do to this point,” he said.
Kelsie had been to a classical music concert once before, in fourth grade. Her pre-concert thoughts were that the music is beautiful and makes her feel peaceful. Afterward, she was quick to say the Stravinsky piece was her favorite. She could tell it sounded more like a story than the Mozart piece. She loved the final movement because it was loud and had moments of sharp pauses that really got her attention.
Ellie is also familiar with classical music and finds it peaceful and calming. She likes Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The experience was pretty much what she expected. Mozart’s symphony was calm, but the third movement of the Stravinsky suite was her favorite part.
Claire is a self-described old soul and is happy with any classical music. Her thoughts after the concert were on how interesting each instrument was to watch and hear, that each had its own place in the orchestra. The violin and cello are her favorites.
Merycle hears classical music at home, too. She likes to have it on in the background when she’s reading. She likes the sound of the violins and says the seventh movement of Stravinsky’s suite was her favorite because it felt powerful.
Ethan enjoys listening to orchestral music, but he found Mozart maybe a bit too calming, while the trombone solo of the second piece really woke him up.
Dalton hadn’t had any exposure to classical music before, but he was open-minded and ready to know more about it. Mozart’s symphony seemed long, and he learned that he liked the louder sound of the trombone.
Clark wasn’t sure what to expect, but afterward he said it was nice to listen and learn about the music written by people way back from centuries ago. It was easy for him to tell the difference between Mozart’s symphony and Stravinsky’s suite for ballet.
Nolan liked the trombone best because it’s loud. But he liked the Mozart piece too. And the one by Stravinsky. He liked it all, and, it’s way different than the country music he often hears at home.
Grant was the lone seventh-grader. He noticed the stark difference between the two main pieces and agreed that the Stravinsky piece sounded like it would go with a story.
Josiah was the only eighth-grader in the bunch, and this was his first experience with classical music. He went into it with a positive attitude, expecting it to be something good. Sure enough, when he saw the instruments, and then as they began to play, he felt joy. Watching the first chair violinist play during the Stravinsky piece was especially interesting because she had several solo or featured parts.
Coach Roberts, who arranged the trip, said, “Any time I get an opportunity to enjoy masters at work, I want to share it with others. If it were not for powerful mentor-teachers in my life, I would never have been able to experience and truly enjoy these sorts of trips. I’ve always wanted to give back because I received so much while I was in school. FASOLT came at the exact moment when I needed a vehicle to open up a whole new world for my students. The most sublime aspect is my students asking when the next trip is going to take place.”
Coach Roberts, Gus Figeac, students and FASOLT supporters look forward to more of these trips in the future, and your participation can help. FASOLT is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, and gratefully accepts tax-deductible donations furthering its goals for our community. For more information and to donate, visit fasolt.org.